Kids of Sa Pa – Northern Vietnam

Ronja – the robber’s daughter

That’s exactly what I thought, when I saw this little girl standing in a crop field in SaPa-Northern Vietnam. SaPais located 350 km north of Ha Noi. I was thinking back and forth, whether I should travel to this area. First of all you have to take a 12 hour night train and share your 2 m² room with 4 people, secondly the weather changes really quickly and it can easily happen that all you see are clouds and rain. Apart from the night train I was really lucky and spent 3 sunny days hiking through the terraced rice fields from one village to the other (really exhausting, yet absolutely recommendable).

More than the beautiful rice fields I remember the kids in this area. Since their parents worked in the rice fields, they spend all day on their own. Some played around with other kids, some took care of their family’s cows and buffalos.

I felt this was so far away from my own culture. No way that we would we leave our 3-7 year old kids on their own all day. We feel at times even weird if a nanny looks after the kids all day. The kids seemed to cope very differently with their loneliness and responsibility to take care of themselves. Some seemed very self-assured and even offended us. Others were curious about us strangers and were excited about us taking pictures of them. Some of them were extremely shy, standing around silent – daydreaming.

Whenever I look at these pictures, I can feel the heat of these days; hear the silence of the area and the kids. They were born directly into an adult life. What a luxury I thought that back home we usually have the money and social support to ensure some childlike and playful years for our kids.

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